Today I’m happy to present to you an extract from Henry! Its the third book in Tonys Tudor trilogy, and I’m looking even more forward into reading it after this! If you haven’t read Tonys other submissions, be sure to read OWEN and JASPER (link) first!
Henry had a secret, a chilling truth only he would ever know. He’d never wanted to be king. He once tried to tell his Uncle Jasper. Dismissing him with a laugh, Jasper risked their lives to make it happen, so Henry learnt to live with his secret, which troubled his waking thoughts and haunted his dreams.
He’d not believed it possible to become King of England. Too many stood in his path and others waited for their chance. Given the chance he would live out his days in the serene Brittany countryside. He remembered the sadness in the eyes of the beautiful Breton woman he would never see again.
Even as he marched with his rebel army to Bosworth, he’d made his peace with God. Despite his faith, he feared a painful death and prayed it would be quick. The best he’d hoped for was imprisonment. He had been a prisoner of sorts for most of his twenty-eight years, so it wouldn’t have been so bad.
Now he held the gold circlet, he could see it wasn’t a proper crown but a symbol of kingship, made to fit over a sallet helmet. His finger traced the fresh, jagged scar in the soft metal. The force of the blow unhorsed the former owner, his enemy, King Richard. Henry heard the king’s defiant curse as he fell.
An eerie quiet marked their victory, punctuated only by the groans of wounded and dying men. An English knight close to Henry called out, his powerful voice shattering the silence like the boom of a cannon.
‘God save the King! God save King Henry!’
Henry turned to see his uncle join in with five thousand others. Jasper raised his sword high and shouted at the top of his voice. He no longer wore his helmet and tears glistened on his weary face.
‘God save King Henry! God save King Henry!’
‘God save King Henry! God save King Henry!’
Henry mounted his white charger and lifted the gold coronet in the air to a rousing cheer from the men. The sound echoed across the battlefield, startling black flapping crows from their gruesome task.
God did little to save the last king, his body slung naked over a horse, on its way to public display in Leicester. Henry said a silent prayer for guidance. He must rely on his faith even more now. He pushed his dark secret away, its power over him replaced by a new foreboding.
He’d won the crown by God’s will, his uncle’s unwavering loyalty and his mother’s determination. Now men looked to him as their new king, yet he’d seen what happened to kings. He waited for the cheers to subside and recalled the words of his uncle during their long exile in Brittany.
‘A king doesn’t have to fight in wars. If you were king, you could bring peace to this country.’
He clung to that thought on the long march from Mill Bay in Wales. Henry doubted any king could end all wars but he could make his mother proud. First, he must deal with Richard’s supporters. Many lay dead on Bosworth Field, their armour robbed by scavengers. Thousands surrendered, throwing down their weapons. Others escaped in the confusion to fight another day.
Henry stared into the expectant faces of men who’d been ready to sacrifice their lives for him. Several bled from wounds in need of attention, all looked weary from fighting. He raised his eyes to the sky as bright summer sunshine streamed from behind a cloud—a good omen.
‘We give thanks to God for our great victory this day.’ He fought to keep emotion from his voice. He must appear strong, like a king.
Another cheer tore through the soldiers crowding around Henry. He glanced across to his uncle. Jasper nodded in approval, a grin transforming his lined, serious face for the first time since they sailed from France.
Henry knew this was his destiny. God had chosen this path for him. How else could they have won against such impossible odds? The thrilling thought surged through his mind, driving out doubts and fears. He raised the gold circlet in the air a second time.
‘This is the day which the Lord has made. We will rejoice—and be glad in it!’
His voice carried the strength of his new conviction. Henry drew comfort from the words of the psalm, chosen for this moment long ago. Jasper made him shout it across the marshes from battlements of Château Suscinio. He’d called out the words over and again until he’d lost all trace of his French accent.
His powerful horse snorted with impatience and stamped a hoof on the hard ground. Henry muttered soothing words to settle his mount and took a firmer grip on the rein. He resisted the overwhelming urge to leave this place of death. There was much to do. He would reward the survivors but the dead would be on his conscience. May God have mercy on their souls.
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